So I just heard from Dr. T . . .
(If you haven’t read my post from earlier this week called “The Sighting,” now would be a good time to catch up.)
I guess he did see me at Whole Foods, because in today’s mail there was a note from him. I saw the local postmark and thought it was a Christmas card from a friend, but then I saw the return address on the back. What the f***! I thought as I opened it.
I should, perhaps, have had lunch first, since my blood sugar really wasn’t steady enough to handle getting a note from Dr. T—after six freaking years. But no. What do I do? Just open up that puppy right away.
Here’s what it said:
Merry Christmas to you, and a Happy New Year. I was surprised to see you at Whole Foods yesterday, and equally surprised by my response. I had only caring feelings for you. It is important to me that you know that I cared for you, tremendously, and that I never, ever meant to hurt you.
I bawled for the better part of an hour, off and on. (Mostly on.) Even more so since my therapist is on vacation until the middle of January (!!) and I really needed someone to talk to who could hold this in the appropriate context.
All I could think was, What am I supposed to do with this??!!
On the one hand, don’t we all have that fantasy of the genuine apology, the sincere remorse? At one time or another, we craved it more than anything else. And then, eventually, we let go of it ever happening. For what, really, is the value of an apology unless the person actually understands what they did and the incredibly traumatic impact of their actions? Since so many abusers lack the ability to empathize, what is the likelihood of their ever really getting it? Unless they do some deep therapeutic work—or receive some spiritual kick to the head that wakes them up.
In the case of Dr. T, there’s no way for me to know where his message is actually coming from. My need for acknowledgment and validation would say one thing, my fear and anger another. As soon as I try to guess his intentions, interpret the note or tie any meaning to it, I get into trouble.
So I guess I’m just going to have to leave it as it is. Which is insanely hard. Part of me thinks I need to do something. React. Respond in some way. He’s done something, so now I need to do something, right? And I so want to make his note mean something. But the fact is, it’s a piece of cardstock with some words on it in handwriting that I never expected to see again. And I don’t actually have to do anything about it. (I’ll let you know how that goes . . .)
In the meantime, I can once again this week notice that I AM OKAY.
An hour (or so) later, I had calmed down, was thinking (relatively) clearly, and was not exhibiting any symptoms beyond the drop in body temperature, slightly wonky blood sugar, and mild wooziness that I commonly experience after a shock. I felt okay. A bit bamboozled, but okay.
Healing is not about never getting upset or losing it or freaking out. It’s about resiliency. Bouncing back more easily. Getting back to center sooner rather than later.
And I am. And that, more than anything else, is what counts. Even more than a note from Dr. T.
Merry Christmas, y’all!
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As I expected, this post is generating some interesting comments. Rather than reply to each one individually, I’ll post an occasional comment in the stream. Thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts!